Tag Archives: knoxville

Multiple Pilot stations seeking WIGS licenses

In Knoxville, 22 of the 52 local businesses applying to sell wine under a state law taking effect July 1 are Pilot Flying J stations, according to the News-Sentinel.

“The general way people call it is ‘wine in grocery stores,’ but it’s actually somewhat of a misnomer,” said Rob Frost, attorney for Knoxville City Council, which approves all of certificates of compliance. “If you sell above a certain percent of food, you don’t truly have to truly be a grocery store.”

In fact, only 20 percent of a business’s sales must come from retail food, according to the law passed in 2014. The law goes into effect on July 1.

Of the 52 compliance certificates issued so far, Food City has received 10, Kroger nine and Walmart four.

Alyson Dyer, an attorney with the city law office, said she expects more applications to be submitted.

The permits to sell wine are issued by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, but the agency requires a compliance certificate from the local government along with a business’s application.

To receive a compliance certificate, a business must fill out an application with the city, have a background check completed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and receive confirmation from the Metropolitan Planning Commission that the store is correctly zoned for selling alcohol.

Note: A bill recently approved by the legislature prohibits anyone from owning more than two liquor store, but that applies only to sellers of distilled liquors, not those selling only wine.

Memphis, Knoxville mayors rally against de-annexation

Only six cities are impacted by the latest version of de-annexation legislation and mayors in two of those — Memphis and Knoxville — are trying to rally opposition to the measure, reports Richard Locker.

The bill is the second phase of a massive shift in Tennessee municipal annexation law that began in 2014 when the General Assembly ended six decades of annexation simply by the majority votes of city councils and replaced it with a requirement for the consent of residents of areas to be taken into city limits, through referendums or petitions.

The de-annexation bill would allow 10 percent of the registered voters of a territory annexed since May 1, 1998, or whose annexation “became operative” after that date, to petition for a de-annexation referendum. De-annexation would occur if approved by a majority of voters in the referendum.

House Bill 779 failed on the last day of the 2015 legislative session but its supporters vowed to return with it this year. And they have, with an amended version that limits most of its provisions to just six cities: Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Johnson City, Kingsport and, oddly, Cornersville (pop. 1,199, in Marshall County) — places where the bill says “citizens have experienced the most egregious forms of annexation and have no other reasonable course to redress their grievance than to petition for a vote.”

… It’s sponsored by Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah and Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson.

“The City of Knoxville is strongly opposed to de-annexation legislation,” said Eric Vreeland, the mayor’s communications manager, on Wednesday. “…allowing de-annexation of properties that have been a part of the city of Knoxville for at least a decade, or many decades, would be chaotic. Infrastructure and facilities — streets, sidewalks and fire halls, for example — have been constructed as areas have been annexed. Services have been upgraded as businesses and residents have come into the city.”

…Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Wednesday the bill is “potentially devastating” to his city, potentially costing it up to 100,000 residents and up to $64 million in property tax revenue.

Strickland, who took office as Memphis mayor Jan. 1, said the city has identified 10 potential de-annexation neighborhoods that could petition for referendums if the bill is approved in its current form.

Another lawsuit planned against Knoxville gun ban

An attorney for the Tennessee Firearms Association says a new lawsuit against the city of Knoxville, Mayor Madeline Rogero and organizers of the Tennessee Valley Fair will claim a civil conspiracy deprived residents of their rights to carry guns at last year’s fair, reports the News Sentinel.

Loudon resident Pandora Vreeland already filed a lawsuit alleging the rights of Loudon County residents were infringed by Rogero’s decision to ban guns at Chilhowee Park. The NRA has said it’s supporting the lawsuit.

Attorney Andrew Fox told a gathering of more than 50 TFA members Tuesday night that a public records request has revealed the Rogero administration unlawfully conspired with the fair organizers to ban lawful handgun permit-holders from Chilhowee Park.

“We believe we will be able to prove civil conspiracy that resulted in an infringement and chilling of people’s lawful rights,” Fox said.

Allegations of conspiracy could prove important in recovering legal fees, he said.

…Eric Vreeland, spokesman for Rogero, said the city’s legal position has not changed — that the guns in parks law does not apply to entertainment and public assembly facilities.

TFA members at the meeting also spoke out against gun control measures announced Tuesday by President Barack Obama. State Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, attended the meeting and said a state law passed last year preventing the federal government from using state resources to enforce federal laws could provide protection from the president’s executive action.

Knoxville mayor Rogero bashes former mayor Ashe

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero has harshly criticized former Mayor Victor Ashe, who recently criticized her administration’s handling of a local greenway project, reports the News Sentinel.

In his column, Ashe, who served as mayor from 1987-2003 and later as U.S. ambassador to Poland, criticized handling of the greenway from the Buck Karnes Bridge on Alcoa Highway to the Naval Reserve Center. He wrote “delay, postponement, excuses and process” have been Goerlich’s greenway “watchwords.” (Note: the column is HERE.)

“Despite being on the job for almost four years, she has little to show for it,” Ashe wrote. “Rogero, who calls herself a ‘green mayor,’ runs the risk of becoming the ‘red clay mayor’ if Goerlich continues her snail’s pace.”

Rogero called that column the latest in a string of personal attacks by Ashe.

“It is one thing for you to criticize me or my senior staff — we get paid to make the decisions and take the heat,” Rogero wrote. “It is something else entirely for you to so nastily and unfairly single out a hard-working junior staff member.”

In the email, Rogero maintained Ashe’s “abuse” of city staffers — particularly women — is part of a pattern that she called “profoundly unfair” and “the classic tactics of a bully.”

She also took issue with the volume of questions Ashe has asked the city to answer for his “weekly gossip column” in the Shopper, writing that, although Ashe rarely uses the information the city provides, he has “taken up more time and occupied more city resources — by far — than any other member of the local media.

…Ashe said Saturday he wouldn’t comment on the email other than to reiterate “the issue of greenways is important, and I hope that the pace of their construction is accelerated.”

See also Knoxviews, which posts Rogero’s full letter and has a substantial number of comments, most agreeing with Rogero.

Trump ignores TNGOP hierarchy in setting up Knox visit

Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign is bypassing the state Republican hierarchy in setting up his Monday campaign trip to Knoxville, reports the News Sentinel, but Tennessee GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes says he’ll be there anyway — and it all relates to how much Tennesseans dislike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Instead of seeking volunteers through the Tennessee GOP or the Knox County Republicans, Trump’s campaign is enlisting the help of former Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison.

“He’s not a professional politician,” Hutchison said of the real estate mogul and reality television star. “That’s why you see him leading the polls for so long. People are fed up with their politicians.”

Trump is scheduled to visit 7 p.m. Monday and speak at the Knoxville Convention Center.

But the state and local Republican party heads have not heard from Trump’s campaign.

“I found out through Facebook,” Ryan Haynes, the Tennessee Republican party chairman.

Public support for Trump is a backlash against traditional politics, and Democractic politicians, according to Haynes, who said he plans to be at the Trump visit.

“I think what you’re seeing is a frustration with the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton,” Haynes said. “Voters are angered by some of the successes they have had politically and they’re gravitating toward a nontraditional candidate.”

Knox County GOP chairman Buddy Burkhardt also hasn’t heard from the Trump campaign.

“Since the announcement came out, my phone has just blown up,” Burkhardt said. “People wanting tickets, people wanting to go. And I’m like, ‘I got nothing.’”

Burkhardt has helped with Knoxville visits from other Republicans seeking the presidential bid from the party, he said, including Jeb Bush and Ben Carson. He’ll help with other visits expected from Republican candidates too, Burkhardt said.

But not Trump’s campaign, though he’d be willing to assist them locally if needed.

NRA weighs in against local gun restrictions — first Knoxville, now Nashville

The National Rifle Association, which recently declared support for a lawsuit challenging Knoxville’s move to ban guns from the city-owned park that hosts the regional Tennessee Valley Fair (previous post HERE), is now opposing a notion raised in Nashville about putting restrictions on gun shows at the city-owned Nashville Fairgrounds.

From The Tennessean:
National Rifle Association lobbyist Erin Luper addressed the five-member Metro Board of Fair Commissioners at Tuesday’s fair board meeting to deliver a message: Don’t pull the plug on guns shows at The Fairgrounds Nashville that date back more than three decades.

There is no proposal to halt gun shows at the Nashville’s fairgrounds — however, fair board commissioner Kenny Byrd has suggested that a communitywide discussion take place to see whether the public wants to continue gun shows on property that belongs to Metro. That push comes amid proposed regulations floated by he and other fair commissioners they say are aimed at safety.

Luper, a state liaison for the NRA who is based at the organization’s Fairfax, Va. headquarters, in her remarks accused gun control advocates such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg of “shamelessly touting” inaccurate statistics regarding firearm transactions from gun shows. She claimed less than 1 percent of guns used to commit crimes in the U.S. originate from gun shows and warned against listening to “bad data” of gun control backers.

“With this reality in mind, I ask the board to address a simple question: Why now? Why after a (long) legacy of holding gun shows at The Fairgrounds Nashville is the board now considering the move to cancel these events, especially considering how these events are enjoyed by so many of our citizens in a safe and responsible manner?” Luper said.

“On behalf of NRA members across the state of Tennessee, we oppose the removal of gun shows from the schedule of activities at The Fairgrounds Nashville and hope that this board will not pander to the misguided politics of the anti-freedom agenda.”

For 35 years, Kentucky-based Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Shows has rented space from the Metro fairgrounds for its weekend gun shows. The entity pays around $7,500 for each show, accounting for more than $80,000 in fairgrounds revenue per year.

More recently, a new vendor, RK Gun Show, has started renting fairgrounds space for events.

The fair board took no action Tuesday regarding possible new guidelines for gun shows at the Nashville fairgrounds, but it plans to revisit the issue at next month’s meeting. Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Shows is contracted with the fair board through 2016, meaning new rules wouldn’t go into effect until 2017.

Knoxville mayor denies membership in Ku Klux Klan

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero insisted in a statement Monday that she is not a member of the Ku Klux Klan after her name appeared in raw data released by the hacker activist group Anonymous, reports the News Sentinel.

Rogero called the accusation that she is a Klan member “false and defamatory” and “irresponsible and slanderous,” and urged her name be removed any lists suggesting her affiliation with the white supremacy organization.

“So, just to be clear, for anyone who doesn’t know me: Don’t be ridiculous,” Rogero wrote on her official Facebook page late in the morning. (Note: The post is HERE.)

“For reasons unfathomable to me or anyone who knows me, my name is on the list. Given my background, my interracial family, my public record and my personal beliefs, this would be hilarious except that it is probably being seen by a lot of people who have no idea who I am.”

The data, posted late Sunday by Anonymous, comes from websites affiliated with the KKK.

“Today we have shut down servers, gotten personal information on members of the KKK, and infiltrated your twitters and websites,” Anonymous said in a news release Sunday. “And this is just the beginning. On November the 4th we will be having a twitter storm, spreading awareness about the operation. And on the 5th we shall release more than 1000 Ku Klux Klan members Names and websites, new and old.”

Judges void 182 Knoxville annexations

Knox County judges have voided 182 annexation attempts by the city of Knoxville — all dating back a decade or more — because of a state law that took effect earlier this year that prohibits annexation without the consent of property owners.

John Avery Emison, president of the anti-annexation organization Citizens for Home Rule, estimated Wednesday about two-thirds of the properties involved were homes and a third were businesses that would have collectively paid “many millions of dollars” in city taxes had the annexations taken effect.

Jesse Fox Mayshark, spokesman for Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, said the lost potential revenue would have been “substantial,” although no estimate has been made. Mayshark said Rogero had not attempted any involuntary annexations and her predecessor, Bill Haslam, now governor, had only attempted a few in his first term.

The court orders issued by three Chancery Court judges require the city to pay court costs in all 182 cases. The first basic filing fee in such cases is $186.50, which in 182 cases would be $33,943. Subsequent costs can vary widely, depending on proceedings in each case.

Emison said his “guess” at costs would be “several hundred dollars” on average. Mayshark said the city’s attorney had not calculated the costs yet.

Owners of the properties involved had filed lawsuits against ordinances passed by the Knoxville City Council for annexation of their homes or businesses that had never been decided. The city’s attorneys had continued to oppose the challenges to annexation, Mayshark said, until the Legislature stepped into the picture.

In its 2014 session, the General Assembly enacted a law that prohibited annexation by ordinance, although the law did not take full effect until May 15 of this year. Citizens for Home Rule, which acted as a coordinator in the Knoxville cases, agreed with city attorneys not to pursue further legal action in the pending cases until after that date, Emison said. But after that date — which followed the April adjournment of the legislative session, during which proposals to repeal or modify the law failed — CHR moved to have all 182 cases dismissed.
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AG won’t opine on Knoxville gun ban

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery will not issue an opinion on the ban of guns at Chilhowee Park during the Tennessee Valley Fair last month, reports the News-Sentinel.

Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, said he got a message Monday afternoon from the AG’s office stating that no opinion will be issued because the AG’s office does not want to influence litigation already underway.

Last week a Loudon resident filed suit in Knox County Circuit Court asking for the court to affirm her right to carry a concealed handgun in Chilhowee Park. The suit was backed by the National Rifle Association.

“They want the courts to decide this issue,” Smith told the Farragut Gun Club on Monday.

Smith said he is concerned that as a society we are moving towards “no absolutes” where laws are interpreted rather than followed.

“The law says you can carry a gun in a park,” he said. “Are we a nation of laws or are we a nation of opinions?”

Smith and other local representatives requested the AG opinion last month after Mayor Madeline Rogero said guns could not be carried at the Tennessee Valley Fair. Smith said he did not feel that ongoing litigation should be a reason not to give an opinion.

Sen. Richard Briggs was also at the Farragut meeting Monday night. He said he really does not disagree with the AG decision to not issue an opinion.

Carson draws crowds, bashes media in visits to Knoxville, Chattanooga

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson drew large crowds, sold a lot of books and criticized national media at campaign/book-signing events in Knoxville and Chattanooga Sunday.

On the Knoxville event, from the News Sentinel:

Dr. Ben Carson, one of the GOP front-runners in a crowded field vying for the 2016 presidential nomination, was greeted by more than 2,000 enthusiastic fans Sunday at a packed Books-A-Million on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville.

“He’s easy-going, he speaks the truth and he’s a super guy,” said 86-year-old Robert Kenchel of Sevierville.

Carson was in town to promote his book, “A More Perfect Union,” which chronicles ways for Americans to reclaim their constitutional liberties. Customers who bought copies of his books from the store were able to get their books autographed by Carson during a meet-and-greet that featured selfies galore.

The crowd erupted with wild cheers as Carson entered the store with his entourage.

Carson said it’s a scene he has become familiar with on his 2015 national book tour.

“It’s the same every place,” the easy-going Carson said. “People, I think, are very excited about somebody who talks about common sense.”

Carson, 64, dismissed recent criticism of his response to the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon after he said that he would have gone down fighting.

Likewise, he said the media blew out of proportion his statement that if the German people had been armed they could have prevented the Holocaust.

“I don’t think any of the comments I’ve made are anything other than common sense,” he said.

In Chattanooga, reports the Times-Free Press, Barnes and Noble sold out of Carson’s book, and a line wrapped around the building full of Carson supporters waiting to get a moment with the man who was second behind Donald Trump in the most recent GOP polls.

…A group of student journalists from Southern Adventist University, which is a Seventh-day Adventist school in Collegedale, covered the event for SAU’s student newspaper, the Southern Accent. Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist.

“Something like this,” said one Accent staff member, “it’s a big deal for us.”

Detractors have pointed to Carson’s lack of political experience and, with his rise in prominence, the 64-year-old Yale graduate has been subject to greater scrutiny from media in recent weeks.

Carson told local reporters that many of the people who he met during the afternoon encouraged him to tune out negative media attention.

“I think people are starting to realize,” Carson said, “that it’s you guys [the media] that are the problem.”

Regarding President Barack Obama’s proposed America’s College Promise, a plan inspired by Tennessee Promise that would give students two free years of community college education, Carson said he does not like national education programs.

“I like things that are done at the local level,” he said. “It seems to work much better. You want the control to be in the hands of those people.”

Note: Meanwhile, Carson has scheduled another trip to Williamson County, the Tennessean notes: The “coffee and conversation” with Carson is set for 9 a.m. Oct. 31 at the home of Franklin Mayor Ken Moore. Moore led Carson on a tour of Franklin at the end of August, where the former surgeons appeared to bond.